Friday, January 26, 2007

Norm Geras, one of the redactors of the Euston Manifesto is asking here:

... not sure why 1938 gets the privilege here for the wink-wink, nudge-nudge treatment, 'we all know what happened'. Because of Kristallnacht maybe. The writer might have picked 1942 instead, when some half of all the Jewish victims of Nazi barbarism, 2.7 million of them, were done to death in one way and another. No matter. It's clear enough what historical experience he or she is referring to. But why make light of it? And of the existential threat Israel has indeed faced since 1948?

I hardly have any rationally-sound answer to this puzzlement. I recognize the sentiment expressed in it from similar instances encountered in the past of impatience with and jeering at Jewish insecurities when debating issues of antisemitism in the Arab and Muslim world or the place occupied by Holocaust memorialization in the West.

Two examples from past experience:

When the Muslim instruction about Jews being the descendants of pigs and apes was introduced into a discussion, one poster saw fit to pooh-pooh it away with what she considered a witty and charming reference to Darwinism: so what, aren't we all descendants of apes, suggesting Jews were ridiculously oversensitive.

To add insult to injury, someone else suggested that even citing such a quotation was a symptom of Islamophobia.

In another discussion, which involved the memory of the Holocaust, one poster took severe exception to Jewish emphasis on its 6 million victims. Such emphasis, she alleged, was akin to dismissing the many other victims of Hitler, including the American soldiers who sacrificed their life to rescue Jews from the gas chambers. When such an opinion was challenged vehemently and angrily, same poster responded that Jews have only themselves to blame if their precious Holocaust is not revered as they would wish it to be. Jews, she said (I paraphrase from memory here) present their behind to the American people and ask them to kiss it. They should not be surprised if instead, they get mightily kicked in the butt.

I think such people get a kick out of such articles as Norm Geras is quoting.

It's as though the event, the industrial genocide of 6 million Jews, is a tiresome footnote, manipulatively magnified by Jews to prevent the comfortable post-colonialist (aka anti-globalization) narrative, so beloved of the Pretend Left, to run smoothly in the case of Israel. So much easier to denounce Israel and question its legitimacy without this vexatious detail interfering with its (ir)relevance.

Isn't this one of the tactics used by president Carter in his book?

A guiding principle of Israel is that never again will persecuted Jews be left with no place to go. Israel's ideal of Jewish refuge is enshrined in laws that grant immediate citizenship to any Jew who requests it. A Jew, for purposes of this law, is anyone who, had that person lived in Nazi Germany, would have been stripped of citizenship by the Nuremberg Laws.

.. by almost ignoring the Holocaust, Carter gives inadvertent comfort to those who deny its importance or even its historical reality, in part because it helps them deny Israel's right to exist.

It's no coincidence that the very same people who like to depreciate from the tremendum of the Holocaust, or the outrage of the Holocaust Denial Conference in Iran, or the extent and depth of institutionalized antisemism in Arab and Muslim, are the very same people who applaud Carter for his "courage" in taking on the Jewish community, no less!, and who express great compassion for those who criminalize the Jewish state.

Here's the way such "courage" should be to be viewed:

"... In my country there's a lot of brave talk about 'I'm going to speak out against Israel although I risk being silenced'. In the main, it's a kind of political posturing by people who don't expose themselves to any real danger, but are attracted to the glamour, the reputation at any rate, of being freedom fighters risking their lives in a noble cause. It's trivial, inconsequential stuff, the material really of vanity and self-regard, and nothing more than that."


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